What are Mercaptans?
Mercaptans are also called thiols. These organosulfur molecules constitute hydrogen, sulfur, and carbon, and they have a pungent odor smell like garlic or rotten cabbage. You can find these compounds in the waste products of metabolism in living beings and oil and gas. Mercaptans are mainly used for gas detection purposes despite having a troublesome odor. For example, people use non-corrosive Mercaptans to detect natural gas.
The concentration of Mercaptans varies widely in oil and gas. This concentration also changes in the case of odor intensity and side effects. Some common side effects of Mercaptans include corrosion of pipelines and poisoning of solid absorption beds and catalysts. Examples of these catalysts include alumina and silica gel.
Industries use several methods for Mercaptan removal for LPG and purification. Sometimes, even the government lends a hand in removing these compounds.
People apply several methods to remove and purify the Mercaptans. We will discuss the most prevalent methods used in their removal and purification below:
- The use of chemical scavengers is one of the most common methods for Mercaptan removal. They react with the Mercaptans to form a compound that does not have corrosion capacity or foul odor.
- People also use acrolein as a scavenger compound for removing Mercaptans. This highly efficient molecule reacts quickly with Mercaptans and sulfides. However, there is limited commercial use of acrolein in field and plant operators because it is a toxic substance.
- Another vital method used to remove Mercaptans is getting them to react with potassium hydroxide, sodium hydroxide, or a combination using similar compounds.
- Oxidation using strong reagents like hydrogen peroxide, sodium hypochlorite, and O2 is also applicable for Mercaptan removal and purification.
- Mercaptan is oxidized and purified using biological removal processes, ozone, and catalytic oxidation processes.
Benefits of removing Mercaptans
Mercaptan removal helps to reduce sulfur emissions. Failing to do so leads to the emission of Mercaptan-containing compounds, and combustion leads to SOx formation. So, removing and purifying these toxic compounds is necessary for refined products and feedstock.
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Mercaptan removal and purification are applicable in the natural gas and crude oil industries. Mercaptan’s odor and corrosive capacity adversely affect the oil and gas industries. That is why they include the process of removing Mercaptans by converting them to non-corrosive compounds.
Crude Oil Industries
Frequently Asked Questions
Mercaptan emits toxic fumes like sulfur dioxide and other flammable vapors when heated to decomposition. So, it is a toxic-generating compound.
The sulfinol process uses a mixture of solvents to behave both as a physical and chemical solvent process. It is applicable in Mercaptan removal from LPG.
Mercaptan is applicable as a gas odorant and an intermediate in producing pesticides. People also use it to form products like plastics and jet fuels.
An odorizer is a Mercaptan gas detector applied to add the compound to natural gas. This device adds the Mercaptan liquid into the natural gas distribution systems to detect leaks.